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The Eco Committee

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Dunoon Primary School

 

Beach and Marine Litter Programme

 

Westbay, Dunoon,

 

September – October 2015

 

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

The Group for Recycling in Argyll and Bute

www.grab.org.uk

Scottish Charity SC02914

 

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Introduction

Dunoon Primary elected to appoint its Pupil Council from the entire school to attend the Grab Trust Beach and Marine Litter Programme, where each pupil represents their class in Dunoon Primary School.  There were on average 18 pupils, ranging from P1 to P7 at each session which was conducted over a period of 6 weeks.  Each class was very ably supported by Senga Wakefield, Chris Bennett and Shona.  The school had decided to use Westbay Beach which is easily accessible with a short walk and is a pedestrian only esplanade.

 

Each session began at 1.15pm with a summary of the previous weeks activities and discoveries, then a brief review of our risk assessment of the beach.  This reminded the children each week of what to do in an emergency.  We always asked them what they wanted to do for that week.  These child led activities revealed lots of things in the marine and beach environment which they were able to recall and remember them easily as they had discovered it for themselves.  Each child had particular interests as the programme developed.  These included jellyfish, seaweed, seaglass collecting, litter picking was popular but cooking outside on the beach on a small fire was definitely their top activity.  Children had to be returning to the school shortly after 2.30pm.

Westbay Beach Esplanade, Dunoon

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I cannot thank the teachers and helpers enough for supporting these children in discovering the mysteries of the beach and marine ecosystem and in cooking damperbread.  Everyone enjoyed the sessions and it would be very beneficial for Dunoon Primary to continue this programme.

 

Session 1 – Monday 21st September 2015

Weather – Warm, sunny, breezy

Group – 18 children ranging from P1 – P7 – plus 4 adults (Chris Bennett, Shona and Senga Wakefield)

 

Programme

– Welcome and Introductions

– Risk Assessments

– Establish boundaries

– Activity

– Circle & Review

– Singsong, snack and hot drink

– Discuss what next week’s activities

 

Michaela met the children at the school grounds and introduced the Grab Trust and its work to staff and children.  We discussed what we would be doing at Westbay over the coming 6 weeks.

 

We walked to Westbay and walked along the seashore discussing how tides work.  We worked on the daily risk assessment and found dog poo, glass and other litter.  The children agreed the location of the circle/camp area and helped bring the kit from the car.  As they were keen to get started off, they all got into groups of 4 or 5 and were given 10 minutes to do a scavenger hunt.  One girl had a small cut on her finger from a sharp shell.  This was wiped with a sterile wipe.

 

We circled to explore what was found then a heavy rain shower came over so we sheltered under a big tarpauline and sang songs.  We then had a hot drink and a snack.  As time was running out, we quickly chatted about next week’s activities.  Bug hunting, a camp fire and jelly fish surveys were all mentioned.  The children had found lots of treasure on the beach.  E.g. a mermaid’s purse, barnacles on shells and metal, a learner plate!, red jellyfish, discarded crab shells, seaweed, seaglass, a giant mussel shell, scallop shells, razor shells, slimy seaweed, slate and a range of rocks and a lucky white feather.

Scavenger Hunt

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Observations:

The children were of a mixed group ranging from P1 to P7 with at least 2 special needs kids.  All were very sharp-eyed on litter and finding treasure and creatures on the beach.  They enjoyed the scavenger hunt and the older boys were keen on finding sea creatures under the boulders.  They were all very aware to put boulders back as they found them and not to remove live creatures from where they saw them, well done!

 

They behaved, kept to the boundaries, unlike Mrs Wakefield who forgot where she was, and all found lots of things on the scavenger list (see Appendix).

 

Key Learning Points

We learned that litter can be harmful to us on the beach and also to marine life.

 

We learned that red jellyfish (lion’s mane) stings are bad and there are more and more washing up on our shores.  They also compete for food that our fish need and our fish may become more difficult to find as a result.

 

We learned about how the tides happen and that they are related to the phases of the moon, i.e. full moon means a high tide, a crescent moon means a very low tide.

 

Session 2 – Monday 28th September 2015

Weather – Warm, sunny, breezy

Group – 16 children ranging from P1 – P7 – plus 4 adults (Chris Bennett, Shona and Senga Wakefield)

 

Programme

– Welcome and Introductions

– Risk Assessments/Emergency Procedure

– Walk to Westbay

– Activity – litterpicking survey of beach / kellykettle fire building

– Circle & Review litterpick

– snack and hot drink

– Discuss what next week’s activities

 

Michaela welcomed the group and we reviewed the Risk Assessment and what to do in an Emergency.  After a brief recap of the previous week we set off for Westbay.  The children all helped to set up the camp area for the afternoon and everybody carried something.

 

We had found quite a bit of litter the previous week so we agreed to clear the beach of litter first and look at what we find.  All children were reminded to wash their hands before snacktime and to wear gloves.  Litter pickers and gloves were handed out and they set off to pick all litter for 20 mins to the fifth lamppost on the promenade.

 

Whilst that was underway Michaela took 4 of the older boys to look for kindling for the kellykettle.  We graded what we found and discussed the fire triangle

 

Fuel + air + a spark = FIRE

 

If we take away any one of these parts then the fire either won’t start or will go out.  We looked at the firekit with its matches, flint and steel, cotton wool and Vaseline.  One of the boys attends scouts and has used these tools.  So we all had a go of creating sparks from the flint and steel.  We build the fire together ready to be lit when the others returned.

When the litterpickers returned we asked them to put all their litter items in to categories using the Student Survey Sheet (see appendix).  Group 1 found 3 types of plastic, 5 bits of metal, 8 paper items, 3 wood debris, 2 glass items and 1 of pottery, totalling 26 items.  Group 2 found 6 plastics, 1 polystyrene, 2 metal and 2 paper, totalling 11 items and Group 3 found 10 plastic things, and 7 metal items and one of paper.  The total weight of the litter found was over 3.5kgs.

 

We talked about what this litter does to the sealife and animals on the shore.  Part of this programme is to encourage people to pick up litter and adopt their very own beach to look after.

 

The boys then lit the fire first time and we put on the kellykettle – keeping a safe distance.  Hot chocolate was made and handed round.  The kids really enjoyed the fire and moved safely around it to escape the smoke!  We reviewed what we had done this session and what they wanted to do next session.   A jellyfish survey, campfire and cooking on the fire was all suggested.

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Observations:

The boys took time to learn and understood the fire triangle, one is a scout and had used the flint and steel.  They gathered and graded the kellykettle material and successfully lit the fire first time.

 

Key Learning Points

  • Fire Triangle and how fires are built and how to control them
  • How to be safe around a fire
  • How many things we find as litter on the beach
  • What and who does this affect?

 

Session 3 – Monday 19 October 2015

Weather breezy, cool but sunny.

17 children and our helpers

 

Programme

  • Welcome & review last session (litter survey and campfire)
  • Discuss additions to risk assessment
  • Walk to Westbay, Unpack gear and circle round
  • Do Jellyfish survey / campfire materials gathering
  • Circle and prepare willow cooking sticks
  • Cook out with marshmallows and hot chocolate
  • Review jellyfish findings / litter findings / beach treasure
  • Discuss next week

 

After a brief recap of the previous week we set off for Westbay.  The children all helped to set up the camp area and everybody carried something.  Two groups volunteered for the jellyfish survey and two groups to help with gathering sticks for the fire.

 

Two groups gathered sticks as thick as a pencil and as long as their hands as long as they were tinder dry (makes a crack when broken!).  The kids gathered a lot of material which was then graded into thickness for the fire.  They then prepared the cooking sticks of green willow and peeled the bark off using potato peelers for a clean cooking implement.

 

The jellyfish hunters returned with BIG news – a barrel, or rootmouth jellyfish was found stranded on the shore – a big wow!  This jellyfish is from southern warmer waters as is being found more often now.    The other two groups had found rockpools and beadlet anenomes living there.  They also found great seaweed, lovely seaglass and knotted ropes and a net on seaweed.  One girl had spotted a mauve stinger from the shore in the sea.  This is a stinging jellyfish and should not be approached!

Rootmouth Jellyfish, Westbay

 

We discussed how harmful this could be for the resident birds and sealife.  They were congratulated on rescuing 3.5 kgs of litter from harming wildlife in Westbay.

 

Mrs Wakefield had also suggested Dunoon Primary adopt Westbay to look after and the head teacher is very supportive of this.  Mrs Wakefield’s  group had spotted the male eider ducks all gearing up for the mating season with the female ducks.  One female usually has 2-3 males courting her in order to secure a mate for winter.

Observations

The kids really enjoyed learning about fires and safety.  They built the stone surround without any suggestion from me.  They used the tattie peelers to peel the bark for their cooking sticks as green willow will not burn whilst they cook their marshmallows.  They behaved very well around the fire, keeping their distance and using their sticks.

 

It was apparent that they really enjoyed sitting around the fire cooking and have asked for this again next week.

 

Key Learning Points

  • Only build small fires and keep it contained, have water available to dowse the fire once its finished
  • Jellyfish are increasing in numbers on our beaches and competing for food
  • Litter is increasingly affecting our resident birds, there are swans, eider ducks and gulls all using the shoreline.
  • How to use tattie peelers safely and prepare green willow cooking sticks

 

Session 4 – Monday 26th October 2015

Weather:  Windy, overcast and cold with a high tide on the wane

15 children, Shona, Senga Wakefield and Chris.

 

Programme

  • Welcome & review last week’s find – Barrel or Rootmouth Jellyfish
  • This week we will do our litter pick along to our camping area and set up camp
  • Circle and explore what we find
  • Hot drink and cookout of damperbread
  • Review activities for next week

 

The children all put on gloves for our litterpick.  We saw that the beach was awash with seaweed, rocks, litter and shells.  The full moon coming on Tuesday means bigger tides than usual.  Treasure finds were collected in white buckets whilst the litterpickers removed all the plastic, cans, bottles and wrappers they could find.

 

The kids found lots of seaweed anchors, where the actual roots of the seaweed have been uprooted by surging waves.  A mermaids purse and fishing tackle were also discovered.  Even a desklamp!   We weighed the sacks and had gathered 7.5 kilos of litter from the beach that day!  Well done everyone!  We walked along to the camp area and took the gear from the car that we needed.  The children set up the fire area for the kellykettle and gathered kindling.  Other groups explored the mounds of seaweed returning with lots of different types.  So we dug out the Plantlife guide to seaweed and one of the lads looked them up.

 

We then prepared our cooking willow sticks and set up the fire.  Some of the children tried out the flint and steel, however the strong breeze meant it was very difficult to light.  Once the fire was going the children were all give a ball of damper bread to roll into a sausage and wrap around their sticks.  The fire was difficult to keep going in the wind and the bread took ages to cook.  The kids used maple syrup to pour into their damperbreads then we had to pack up to go.  We circled round and discussed next week.  Michaela reminded them there was 2 sessions to do and they should try and agree together what to do for these.

Successful damperbread

 

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For next week we agreed to look at the treasure we had found and talk about the different seaweeds and plants in the sea and what affects these.

 

Session 5 – Monday 2nd November 2015

Weather:  Overcast and cold with a high tide on the wane

14 children, Shona, Senga Wakefield.

 

Programme

 

  • Welcome & review (damper bread and 7.5kgs of litter found)
  • Litter pick along to our camping area and set up camp
  • Circle and explore what we found last week
  • Jellyfish survey and seaweeds
  • Hot drink and snack
  • Review activities for next week

 

Michaela welcomed the group and we reviewed what we achieved last week.  Litter pick of 7.5kgs and our damperbread experience.  The children were keen to know what we’d be doing today.  We agreed to litterpick to our camp, set up and review our treasure finds from last week.  We will be cooking marshmallows today!  We thought we’d log the jellyfish sighting from the previous sessions with the Marine Conservation Society too and look for some more.

 

We went along to Westbay with the kids already picking up litter along the way.  When we arrived we noticed lots and lots of seaweed along the strandline, high up the beach.  They remembered that tides were affected by the moon phases and there had been a full moon the previous week.

 

We handed out gloves, pickers and treasure buckets and went right along the entire beach to the car.  They found lots of treasure and litter, though not as much as we thought we’d find.  Two iron bars will definitely help with the weight! (7.5kgs).

 

One of the girls found a great branch festooned with seaweed, so our seaweed tree was brought back to our camp and erected so that the kids could put up their seaweeds.  We looked up some of them and found carrageen and sugarkelp amongst the others like bladderwrack.  We discussed what we had learned from the previous sessions and Michaela was very pleased that they remembered lots.  i.e. mermaids purses were shark eggs.

 

Callum filled out the jellyfish survey and went off to look for some more.  We looked at our treasure and all the kids showed them off.  The older ones set about getting the firepit ready and we unloaded our gear.  Each child selected a cooking willow stick and used the tattie peelers to peel the bark.  Shona took small groups separately to learn how to use the flint and steel – which is very popular.  They then concentrated on cooking their marshmallows.  Everyone had hot chocolate or some juice.  It was time to packup and return to school.  The kids were very helpful in bringing the gear back to the car.

 

Next week is their last session so they will think about what they want to do.

Session 6 – Monday 23rd November 2015

This session was postponed by two weeks due to the weather:

Weather – Dark overcast clouds, cold and heavy rain coming in .

7 children, Shona and Senga Wakefield.

 

Programme

  • Welcome to our last session
  • Review our litter pick effort (22kgs) and our major discoveries (sharks, tides, jellylfish, fires and seaweeds)
  • Discuss todays activity
  • Hot drink and snack
  • Review the programme

 

With heavy rain in the playground we used the school entrance to review our discoveries and to discuss todays activity.

 

The children wanted to still visit the beach in the pouring rain so we agreed to walk along and see how we went.  They all took gloves and litterpickers and cleared the beach as much as they could.  Big tides had obliterated the beach with huge  mounds of seaweed.  However, the cold wind and heavy rain was too much for some of the kids so Shona returned to my emergency van to get the kids warm again.  With the engine running, hot chocolate in thermos flasks and chocolate biscuits they soon got warm.  We decided to cut the session short on the beach and return to the school to review the programme.  Senga Wakefield and Shona took most of the children on foot and I brought back two of the last kids who couldn’t manage the walk.

 

We dried off in the staffroom and had a quick quiz on how long it took for many of the items we had found to degrade in the sea.  We then talked about sewage and what we should and shouldn’t put down toilets.  Ideally only the three P’s should be down there (Poo, Pee and Paper).

 

Elaine Stewart the Head Teacher agreed with Senga Wakefield that Dunoon Primary would be very interested in continuing the programme with other pupils in the school.  They agreed to look at fundraising for waterproofs and wellies for this.  Michaela agreed to approach the Grab Trust.

 

Feedback from Dunoon Primary and Pupils

 

Beach School Project Evaluation 2015

 

  1. Description of the day and general assessment

Our sessions always began with a very important “Risk Assessment Talk” with the children then a literpick up and then planned science based activity.

  1. Which activity/ies do you think were the most successful and why?

The children loved learning how to start a “safe” fire with a flint.  They loved toasting marchmallows.  They didn’t mind litterpicking as they know how important it is.

  1. Which activity/ies do you think were the least successful and why?

Nil!

  1. Any other activities you think we should include and why?

Talks about the different kinds of shells and sealife perhaps.  More survey / practical work.  More “Forest School” based projects.

  1. Any other changes that could improve the outdoor day and why?

No!  All sessions were very well organised and carried out.  Michaela was an excellent, fun loving tutor.

  1. Did you notice any change in the behaviour of the pupils?

Yes pupils from our Learning Centre behaved in a calm and happy manner.  They were very motivated to participate in our Beach project.

  1. Any other comments that will help us to improve the outdoor session?

The pupils and I had a fantastic busy time with Michaela at the beach.  We learned a lot which helped to improve our local environment.  Please can we have more projects with Michaela and Grab.

 

Comments from Pupils

 

  • My favourite activity was the jellyfish hunt because we found a barrel jellyfish (Callum)
  • I liked roasting the marshmallows (Grace, Aoife, Cara, Katherine, Darren, Laura)
  • I’d like more denmaking next time (Chris)
  • I’d like to make kebabs (Teyla)
  • We missed a day! (Eli)
  • I enjoyed treasurehunting (Charlie-Jane)
  • I liked finding the seaglass (James)
  • When we roasted the damperbread (Lois, Aimee)